Mainstream superheroes with decades of history (Superman, Batman, SpiderMan, the various Avengers) are flying off comic book pages onto the big screen, in an increasing number of blockbuster comic-films enabled by advances in CGI. Interesting to consider how the concept of the superhero has seeped more deeply into our culture as a result of this and other manifestations of comic book culture – to the extent that we probably wouldn’t be surprised to see all manner of people wearing capes, bending steel, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. The line between fantasy and reality is blurry as hell these days.
As comic culture evolves, so does the entrepreneurial culture of superhero development. The New York Times has a piece about the a creative renaissance at Image Comics, a smaller comic publisher with 5% of market share vs Marvel’s 37%. Image is getting a lot of buzz, though, and has one major success, “The Walking Dead,” basis for AMC’s zombie series (no superheroes there, only frail humans vs ravenous zombies).
Also noting how big a deal Comic-Con’s become, no longer a comic book convention but an increasingly important convergence event. A swirl of comic geek and sci-fi geek subcultures mediated by new technologies is emerging. I’m not quite sure how to reconcile this accelerating fantasy culture with the very real dysfunctions and failures of puny humans – will a commitment to a culture of comic book heroes save us by inspiring a real sense of superhumanity? Or distract us from our state of collapse until it’s too late to go home?
“…the heroic myth helps counter feelings of powerlessness within the family structure. Which is why little boys can’t get enough of superheroes. It lets them imagine themselves as instruments of their own will — instead of subjugated weaklings, in tiny bodies, who lack all agency.” ~ “Meeting Our Cultural Overlords at Comic-Con”